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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

New Treatments Take On Multiple Sclerosis

A microscopic view of the effects of multiple sclerosis on nerve tissue. (Wikimedia Commons)

A microscopic view of the effects of multiple sclerosis on nerve tissue. (Wikimedia Commons)

On Monday, the Irish Supreme Court rejected 59-year-old quadriplegic Marie Fleming’s plea to be able to end her life with the help of her common-law husband because she can no longer do it herself.

It’s a reminder of the horror of multiple sclerosis (MS), a disease of the central nervous system characterized by the progressive degeneration of neurons.

But other patients have different experiences.

Former presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s wife Ann Romney, for instance, has lived in remission for years.

Ann Romney, wife of former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, says her love of horses helped her overcome her fear that multiple sclerosis would put her in a wheelchair. (Ida Mae Astute/ABC's Good Morning America via AP)

Ann Romney has said her love of horses helped her overcome her fear that multiple sclerosis would put her in a wheelchair. (Ida Mae Astute/Good Morning America)

We check in on treatment of the disease with Dr. James Bowen, who writes about the latest research in the current issue of Scientific American.

Doctors still don’t know what triggers MS and they don’t have a cure for it, but new and developing drug therapies have helped many MS patients lead longer lives with less disability.

And Dr. Bowen says about half of his rapidly-degenerating patients who have had bone marrow transplants to treat the disease have seen a reduction in symptom flare-ups.

For some, the disease stabilized for as long as six years.

MS Studies Recommended By Scientific American:

Guest:


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Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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